Over the past two years, KrASIA and 36Kr Global have coordinated multiple projects on behalf of clients in Asia. These included events where high-profile figures in tech, innovation, and investment shared unique observations about the business climate in East and Southeast Asia, as well as in-depth research assignments that utilized existing connections with established startups, corporations, and investors.
Here is an overview of some of the events organized by KrASIA and 36Kr Global over the past 18 months, plus examples of research that the teams conducted to showcase the ins and outs of specific business sectors.
In-Person Huddles for the Singapore Economic Development Board
KrASIA and 36Kr Global organized a series of events where experts shared their insights in settings that were less formal than typical panel presentations. The Let’s Chuhai Club was organized between September and December 2021 in Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing to showcase pathways for Chinese startups to enter Southeast Asia—the process of chuhai, or heading overseas. In particular, Let’s Chuhai Club featured group discussions, which are typically overlooked in China.
The startup representatives that took part were able to form new connections with each other and exchange business ideas. They were also able to link up with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and receive guidance about operating a business in the city-state.
The VIPs of Let’s Chuhai Club’s Southeast Asia huddles included six representatives from EDB—regional vice presidents Low Jin Yong and Jackson Phang, regional vice director Chua Zong Lun, and regional directors Lee Yi Wei, Tan Wee Kim, and Vanessa Tan.
Other guests included Randolph Hsu, founding partner of Ondine Capital; Qin Tianyi, investment vice president of ZhenFund; Jason Wang, partner at ShareIt Group; and Timothy Kwok, product vice president of Fuse; and more leaders of major companies.
The events’ guests shared insights that were helpful for the startup representatives in attendance, with Randolph Hsu specifically pointing out that the Southeast Asian market is not merely a market that is a decade behind China and destined to follow the same trajectories. Rather, business experience that was gained by operating in China is a helpful asset when expanding to the region, but the most crucial element is to formulate an understanding of the local business ecosystem, which includes the habits and cultural values of local staff, according to Timothy Kwok and Jason Wang.
Notably, the era where Chinese companies can do business merely by undercutting competitors has passed. Expectations from Chinese entrants are more sophisticated now, and partnerships with local entities such as venture capital firms and governmental organizations like EDB may be useful for gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.
The four huddles garnered more than 1,200 entrants, many of whom were C-suite executives, vice presidents, and department leads from more than 130 companies that were in attendance. The media assets related to the events racked up more than 100 million impressions.
Hybrid Events for JETRO
On behalf of the Japan External Trade Organization, or JETRO, KrASIA and 36Kr Global organized an in-person Open Innovation Meetup in Shenzhen in October 2021, followed by an Open Innovation Reverse Pitch webinar in March 2022. The objective was to connect Chinese startups with Japanese conglomerates and form new business partnerships. The events included an educational component that delivered information about the mutual benefits of this type of business relationship.
The VIPs of these events included Shimizu Kenji, head of JETRO’s Guangzhou branch; and Ono Koki, director of the innovation department of JETRO’s Guangzhou branch.
Other guests from Japan included Amano Kenji, China general manager of Daikin Industries; Aizawa Takumi, manager of product development in China for Toyota Tsusho; Kasai Michihiko, KDDI’s head of China in corporate venture capital; and Matsumoto Manabu, deputy general manager in China for Sekisui Chemical. The event’s China-based guest speakers were Luo Xuan, co-founder and senior vice president of Syrius Robotics; Hu Xianlong, vice president of Nreal; and Max Ma, CEO of 36Kr Global.
In all, the representatives of 20 China-based startups and 20 Japanese corporations took part in the events and engaged each other in fruitful dialogue.
The speakers built upon the existing pattern of collaboration between Chinese and Japanese companies. Referencing the way Japanese businesses offered great technologies to China over the past three decades, Max Ma pointed out that Chinese companies have been providing solutions to Japan in recent years, and the way China-based firms enter Japan has been a new way of collaboration between the two countries. Now, the Japanese government is offering incentives and assistance to encourage Chinese companies’ entry into Japan.
To operate in Japan, Chinese firms must ensure that they have superb attention to detail, even when addressing problems that may not have been anticipated. This is commonly part of customers’ expectations in Japan and can be considered one of the prerequisites of doing business in the country.
Meanwhile, Chinese businesses are known to iterate at an unmatched pace. If a Chinese firm and a Japanese firm form a partnership or joint venture, the two sides must find common ground to work at a speed that is appropriate for everyone involved.
Hybrid Huddles for InvestHK
In November 2021, KrASIA and 36Kr Global organized an offline event for InvestHK, the Hong Kong SAR government’s department that oversees foreign direct investment. The huddle was a side event of the 2021 edition of Hong Kong Fintech Week, and presented the conditions in Hong Kong to fintech startups that were examining the possibility of operating in the city.
The guest speakers from InvestHK included Helen Yip, head of investment promotion; and King Leung, head of fintech.
Other guest speakers included Andrew Wu, president of Dun & Bradstreet China; Sebastian Xie, head of technology innovation at Standard Chartered Bank; Liang Jing, president of Hi Sun FinTech; and more.
Hong Kong remains a key international financial center. For Chinese startups looking to offer their services beyond mainland China, Hong Kong is often their first stop. These expansions to Hong Kong often involve rethinking internal operations such as information security—an extremely fast pace of innovation and iteration is only part of the equation, and other segments of general business operation also need consideration.
This event involved panelists from InvestHK and Standard Chartered Bank who joined the discussions via Zoom and shared their insights with attendees in Shenzhen.
In all, the representatives of 50 China-based fintech startups participated in the huddle.
Content Creation and Research for the Singapore Tourism Board
In mid-2021, 36Kr Global was commissioned to produce and publish original content about Singapore’s MICE tourism sector—“meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.”
36Kr Global published several articles to introduce Singapore’s measures to welcome MICE visitors from China and share insights directly from Andrew Phua, the Singapore Tourism Board’s chief representative and executive director for Greater China. 36Kr Global also produced two videos showcasing interviews with the leaders of China-based startups and venture capital firms about their choice of Singapore as a destination for expansion.
Other coverage explored the usage of sustainable technological solutions in Changi Airport and tourist destinations such as Marina Bay Sands, Mandai Wildlife Reserve, and Sentosa.
Additionally, over the course of two months, 36Kr Global authored a research report about Singapore’s role as a gateway for Chinese companies seeking to enter Southeast Asia. In particular, the report unpacked the MICE resources in the city-state that can be harnessed to develop business connections in the region. These materials have been utilized by China-based startups that are forming or implementing plans for expansions into Southeast Asia.
Research Consultancy for Adyen
36Kr Global was commissioned by payments solution provider Adyen to produce and publish a report that unpacks the global payments landscape for China-based retailers. To do so, 36Kr Global’s researchers interviewed the leaders of companies and venture capital firms that operate in the e-commerce space to present their insights about the way payment channels are integrated into their platforms. These included Lu Xiangyin, director of XP-Pen’s global marketing center; Max Liu, head of payments for CHICV; Justin Moon, president of Popmart International and vice president of Pop Mart; Griffin Peng, general manager of payments at Shopline; Qin Tianyi, vice president of investment at ZhenFund; and Carrie Hu, Adyen’s country manager in China.
One notable conclusion is that Chinese retail companies often overlook the importance of payments when they expand overseas. A dependable payment channel is not only a prerequisite for retail, but also a means to drive business growth. By analyzing payments data, new strategies could be formed to help brands take their operations to the next level.
Over the course of three months, 36Kr Global conducted research and found out that retail brands are often stymied by the complexity of local payments channels in new markets. To ensure that these channels are set up properly and in line with consumer expectations, retailers can collaborate with solutions providers. Some of the criteria for evaluating whether a provider is a right match with a new entrant include the future expansion plans of the payment provider, whether the provider expects to include more channels, and whether the provider offers in-depth analysis of user data and activity.
36Kr Global was able to execute this project by utilizing its existing relationships with a litany of China-based companies. These same connections and more can be harnessed to shape new events and discover new insights related to the business environment in East and Southeast Asia.
To learn more about the enterprise and consulting services that KrASIA and 36Kr Global provide, please contact [email protected].